From the Toronto Star--Has anyone else heard of this happening?
Explosion alerts police to gas theft scheme
Improvised tank held hundreds of litres of fuel paid for with stolen credit cards, police say
Feb. 23, 2006. 03:16 PM
STAFF REPORTER THESTAR.COM
York Regional Police suspect that organized crime may be behind a spreading gas-fraud scheme, which they say is designed to take advantage of high retail gas prices.
Using stealth and unorthodox pumping methods, suspects steal gas right out from under the noses of gas station managers, take off and re-sell the gas to other gas stations – a plan that police say has been causing a series of fires.
A police source says the gas-fraud ring is operating throughout the GTA, but it has dangerous consequences.
When things go wrong, the theft can have "explosive" results for the criminals and the people standing near the pumps.
Lately, police say, some vehicle fires have been attributed to gas-fume explosions inside vehicles that are transporting and pumping in stolen gas.
The latest case came in Vaughan on Tuesday.
Police say that the two males pulled up to an Esso station at Thornhill Woods Drive, north of Highway 403 and near Highway 7, at about 9 p.m. At the side of the van was a hole drilled near where the gas tank opening is located in a bid to throw off suspicion.
The suspects put the nozzle through the drilled hole, where a pump and hose apparatus sucked up the gas into large storage tanks.
While in the process of refueling a red 1993 GMC van, which was later found to be stolen, a small explosion occurred, igniting the inside of the vehicle, police say.
A bus driver and several other people grabbed fire extinguishers and put out the fire while the two male suspects ran off.
After the fire was put out, police found a 1,100-litre storage tank inside the vehicle. The back seats had been ripped out totally. The tank, which contained 700 litres of fuel, did not catch fire. Police suspect the 700 litres of fuel were pumped from several gas stations.
The fire was caused when the pump ignited fumes inside the van, police say.
Police closed down Highway 7 until fire crews deemed the situation safe.
Police say that two males were using this large tank to house fuel that was purchased using stolen credit cards.
Police are looking for two Russian-speaking white males. They were both about 5-foot-8. One was wearing a brown jacket and black pants. The other was wearing a blue parka and blue pants.
Police are hoping witnesses at gas stations are alert to this danger and call police if they see anything suspicious.
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02-23-2006, 10:16 PM #1
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